Q&A on EU data protection reform


The growing globalisation of data flows, via social networks, cloud computing, search engines, location-based services, etc, arguably increases the risk that people could lose control of their own data. MEPs are debating a major overhaul of current EU data protection rules which aims to put people in control of their personal data and to build trust both in social media and in online shopping and communication in general.

The EU’s current data protection laws date from 1995, before the Internet came into widespread use. Today, 250 million people use the Internet daily in Europe. The new rules will update the principles enshrined in existing legislation and apply them to the new online environment, so as to ensure effective protection of the fundamental right to data protection and improve certainty as to the law for companies.

What does the “data protection package” consist of?

The data protection reform package consists of two draft laws: a general regulation covering the bulk of personal data processing in the EU and a directive on processing data to prevent, investigate, detect or prosecute criminal offences or enforce criminal penalties.

The draft regulation updates the principles set out in a 1995 directive, so as to keep pace with major changes in data processing brought about by the Internet. It would cover, for example, data processed on the Internet, e.g.  for social networks, online shopping and e-banking services, and off it, e.g. for hospital and university registers, company registers of clients and personal data held for research purposes.The lead MEP on the draft regulation is Jan Philipp Albrecht (Greens/EFA, DE).

The draft directive would replace and broaden the scope of a 2008 framework decision on cross-border data processing in police and judicial cooperation. It is designed to protect both domestic and cross-border transfers of data. The lead MEP on the draft directive is Dimitrios Droutsas (S&D, EL). Here to read more.

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